I was given a modest budget to go and kit myself out in some clothes that I could pull off better than the baggy donations I’d been given by a kind stranger. I wasn’t really sure what to get, but there was another rent boy there willing to take me shopping. He was very bubbly and clearly had never been afraid of his sexuality. He asked me about a bit of my background, but mostly I’d deflected by telling him I’d reveal my secrets when he’d told me about himself. Apparently his work name was Kai, but his real name was Ryan, his parents had divorced when he was young and he had grown up living between the two. He went through a rebellious phase as a teenager which ended up in him failing school and then one of his friends joined this massage parlour, telling him it was really good money. Feeling he had few other prospects, he decided to join too and was actually very happy with the whole thing. He said it was like he was running his own business and he was the product.
It was a little strange, I suppose, but I could sort of see what he meant. Maybe the sex industry had changed. I asked what his opinion on the industry was and he admitted that it still had a bad rap because a lot of whores were dependent on drugs and had awful pimps, mostly because the laws were so sketchy. But apparently I didn’t have to worry about that with this place, because Vancouver allowed massage parlours and implied that sex work was legal in these places by omitting mention of it from its laws.
The first place he took me was to a drugstore to buy a razor and shaving foam, informing me that I didn’t look good with a beard. I smiled faintly, groaning internally as he demanded to know about me. Apparently deflecting his questions back onto him wasn’t going to work. I caved and told him I was originally from London, had worked there for a while – taking care to use the word escort – before moving to America. I admitted that in the last few months every attempt at a relationship had fallen apart and I was jobless, looking for a new beginning. I figured it was close enough to the truth that it would satisfy him. He looked at me sideways, pulling money that my new boss had given me out of his wallet (he had told me that he would be in charge of the cash because he could see me buying shit clothes with it).
“How old are you?” he asked curiously.
“Thirty six,” I told him. I had filled in too much detail about my life for it to have fitted in the space of the twenty eight years I was supposed to be, especially given that education was compulsory up to sixteen in England. He looked surprised.
“You’re quite a twink for an old guy,” he grinned appreciatively.
“Twink?” I asked, rolling the word around my mouth curiously. I’d never heard that word before. He nodded, laughing a little.
“Yeah. It’s a term you’ll hear a lot of here. It’s usually used to describe a young gay guy with a slender build and pretty much no body hair. Talking of which, if you don’t already, you’ll probably want to shave downstairs,” he told me so matter-of-factly that I was actually stunned for a moment. I was supposed to be the blunt one.
“Why would I shave down there?” I asked, “I’d look like a little boy.”
He shrugged, “people seem to prefer others to be shaved all over.”
“I think I’ll skip that one, thanks. I’ll shave my face, but that’s it.” I actually shuddered a little bit. Why would anyone want me to look like a child?
He laughed, noticing the look of vague disgust on my face. “’Kay, but you’ll get more money if you do. It’s a small sacrifice.”
“If they want a boy, then they have no business fucking me. I’ve never had complaints about not being shaved before.” Ryan just laughed again, linking arms with me and kissing my cheek.
“Alright then, big man. Have it your way. I’m still in charge of your wardrobe.” And with that, he had me inside a clothes shop, dragging me with far too much excitement over to the men’s section. Everything he picked out I refused to try on.
“You have me mistaken for a twig,” I said, nodding at the skinny jeans he was holding up.
“I don’t. They’ll fit you, trust me.” Eventually, he bribed me into the fitting room with a selection of clothes that all looked like they were going to be five sizes too small. “Just think of the cigarettes,” he called from the other side of the curtain as I grumbled. “What’s taking so long?” he asked before I’d even gotten the jumper off. He ripped back the curtain impatiently, stepping into the cubicle with me. He shut it again, stripping me of the jumper in a well practiced motion. “Might as well get used to seeing each other naked,” he laughed at the look of shock on my face, “we’ll probably work together a fair bit.” I just sort of nodded, looking up at the ceiling as he pulled the slacks down, making a noise that was somewhere between appreciation and shock as he came face to face with my lack of underwear. “Commando. Nice. Never underestimate the power of a good pair of boxer briefs, though.”
I prayed to god that he didn’t keep this up, or he was going to end up giving me a problem and no way of solving it. He instructed me to step out of the slacks and put together a pair of light tan ‘chinos’ and a button up plaid shirt in blue. He watched as I put them on, but I was too busy thinking of things to keep myself soft. I wasn’t much in the mood, but it’d been a while since anyone had ordered me around so firmly, and you know how I feel about that. Apparently it wasn’t working.
“Eager to get to work?” he laughed, palming me a little. I groaned with embarrassment, but Ryan didn’t seem to mind, stripping me again and dressing me up in the other outfits he’d found. He nodded in approval at his choices, though I was convinced my legs were going to drop off if I spent more than five minutes in most of the trousers he’d picked. He put them all back on the hangers and told me to get dressed again. I did as I was told, arranging the slacks so they hid my little problem.
After that ordeal, he bought me the promised cigarettes, and a coffee. We sat outside, quietly at ease with each other already. I’d only met him two hours ago, but I felt like I’d known him longer already. Maybe it was because he casually asked how my problem was over the rim of his mug, his eyes hidden behind a pair of shades. I couldn’t tell if he was looking at my face or not, but it didn’t seem to matter. I told him it was gone and he pouted at me, promising he’d give me a very welcoming night since it was his day off. He seemed to think he would be able to teach me a few new things. I laughed. Unless he was talking about new slang, I doubted very much that he knew more than me about how to please another man.
The banter went back and forth like that for a while, before Line surfaced from the back of my mind where I’d been keeping him.
“Can I have some money? I need to write a letter to a friend of mine.” He handed it over without a question, apparently noticing the change in my tone. I told him to wait there, wandering off in search of a stationery shop. I bought myself a pad of paper and some envelopes, a pen and stamps, before returning to Ryan. He said I could stay with him if I wanted and I accepted, figuring at the very least he would be able to keep my mind off Line better than I would on my own. I sat on the floor, using a chair as a desk when we got to his – it was a tiny bedsit with next to nothing in it, just a bed a bathroom and a small kitchen. He didn’t even have a TV. He left me to it, claiming he needed a shower.
I hope I haven’t worried you too much. I thought it was for the best if I just left. I’m terrible at goodbyes. Please tell the others I’m sorry for leaving without a goodbye. I suppose you can congratulate Theo on getting what he wanted, too.
Anyway, I’ve got a roof over my head and a job where I’m staying. I’ve made a new friend already. His name is Ryan. He seems determined to keep an eye on me, so you’ve no need to worry about me. The job isn’t anything solid, but it’ll feed me and keep a roof over my head until I find something better.
I hope you’re okay.
Please don’t try to find me. I think we’ll both be better off for it.
I folded the letter up and waited for Ryan to finish in the shower so I could get him to take me to a post office. It was unlikely that I would get lost if I went alone, but it was very likely that I would end up in a bar, and although Line wasn’t here, I didn’t want to disappoint him.
Ryan walked out of the bathroom naked, not even bothering to wrap a towel around himself. I glanced up at him as he dried his dark hair. The hair on his head was indeed the only place he actually had any hair. True to his word, he was completely shaved everywhere else. It didn’t seem to be such a strange thing on him.
“Like what you see?” he grinned at me, noticing that my glance had turned into a stare. I looked away.
“I suppose,” I replied flippantly. I had indeed liked what I’d seen. His dark skin shone in the dim light from the water dripping from him, and he clearly looked after himself.
“You suppose?” he laughed, “I saw you eyeing up my cock. Old pervert.” I shot a glare at him.
“I might be old, but that just means I have more experience than you.”
“Oh does it now?” I nodded. “Prove it.” I growled at him and he winked. “If you can get it up twice in one day, that is.” With that, I tackled him to the bed, threatening to render him useless for a week. He let out a surprised squeak, the cockiness faltering for a second. I pinned his arms either side of his head, using the rest of my body to keep him perfectly still.
“Take me to the nearest letter box first, and then I’ll prove it.” God could that kid move. He was out from underneath me and dressed in about ten seconds.